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Diet review of ISIL crisis to focus on PM Abe’s Middle East speech

  • 2015-02-02 15:00:00
  • , Asahi
  • Translation

(Asahi: February 2, 2015 – p. 4)


 The opposition parties, which have refrained from criticizing the government so far over the hostage taking by the extremist “Islamic State,” are now poised to demand a review of the Abe cabinet’s response to the crisis at the Diet. The opposition is also critical of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal to have the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) rescue Japanese overseas, so this is likely to become a focus in the debate.


 Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Katsuya Okada told reporters at the party headquarters on Feb. 1: “We will review the government’s response to ensure that a similar situation will never come to pass again. We ask the government to disclose information on the events so far to the extent possible.”


 The opposition parties are particularly keen on looking into Abe’s speech in Egypt on Jan. 17. He called for support for “countries in the area fighting against ‘ISIL'” and pledged a total of $200 million as aid to refugees and other humanitarian aid.


 Japan Innovation Party Secretary General Yorihisa Matsuno stated on Feb. 1: “The humanitarian aid mentioned in the Prime Minister’s speech was not taken by the ISIL as such and this perhaps became a pretext (for the incident).” He indicated that the government’s thinking on the relationship between the speech and the hostage crisis will be questioned.


 DPJ Secretary General Yukio Edano also said that “it is necessary to query (the government)” on the $200 million humanitarian aid “because the media have reported questions raised by experts and others.”


 Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii also issued a statement: “Information necessary for reviewing the government’s response from the detention of the two Japanese up until now needs to be disclosed.” The opposition plans to demand an explanation on the concrete steps taken by the government since the two went missing last summer.


 Likewise, Social Democratic Party Secretary General Seiji Mataichi indicated that “it is necessary to do a level-headed review, including Prime Minister Abe’s Middle East visit.” He asserted that the timing of the visit also needs to be examined.


 The opposition is also concerned that the hostage crisis may be linked to security legislation at the current Diet session.


 Although Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasized at his news conference on Feb. 1 that the hostage crisis “has nothing to do with security legislation and these two matters are completely unrelated,” Abe has pointed out that “at present, the SDF is not able to make full use of its capabilities when Japanese nationals are in harm’s way overseas.” He has been calling for legislation to authorize the protection and rescue of Japanese citizens.


 Edano remarked on the same day: “I don’t think this needs to be discussed immediately,” pushing back against the Prime Minister. Mataichi also voiced the following criticism: “The idea of sending the SDF is fundamentally wrong. (The incident) was a criminal act, so the states in the region should deal with it through the exercise of their police powers. If the concerned countries’ cooperation can be obtained, dispatching the SDF would be unacceptable because that would be mixing war and crime.”

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